How Marko Germar Has Proved Himself on the "SYTYCD" Stage

Photo by Adam Rose, courtesy of FOX

It may be difficult to believe, now that Marko Germar is a "So You Think You Can Dance" favorite, but the beloved all-star almost didn't make the show. He was cut twice during the preliminary Vegas week in Seasons 5 and 7. But he ultimately gave the opportunity one last shot—and clinched the top 20 in 2011. Now, eight years after his first audition for the show, Germar went on tour as a dance captain with this season's top 10. Here, he talks to DT about how he fought to become one of the most popular artists in the show's history.

How he connects to his performance "I consider myself a storyteller above everything else. I love to use art to help other people tap into their emotions and understand what they're feeling. That's what I've done every season on this show, and what I worked on with my partner, Koine Iwasaki, this season. I helped her dig from personal experiences and find the core emotions that fill the story of the characters we portrayed."

On dancing in politically charged pieces "The choreographers will tell us the intention of these pieces, and what they want to get across, and we have the burden of interpreting their vision. How people perceive what we do is entirely up to them, but as a dancer it's nice to be a part of something bigger. We each feel a responsibility to be aware of what is happening in the world and to be honest about it when we dance."

On proving himself "Every time I auditioned for the show, I was sent to the choreography round to partner multiple dancers before they would send me through to Vegas. Then, when I was in Vegas, the same thing would happen—they kept calling me back to partner other dancers. That week is already so hard, but I didn't stop working. I think it was one of the reasons they put me through to the top 20. I proved that I would work hard, that I could pick up choreography and that I was a strong partner, which is what this show is all about."

Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

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Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

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Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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